Three steps to decarbonisation

1st June 2015

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Jason Chambers

A report from the World Bank outlines the steps countries need to take to reduce net emissions of greenhouse gases to zero and stabilise climate change.

The bank warns that if countries do not start taking action now, the global cost of making the transition to a zero-carbon future will rise, and would be 50% more expensive by 2030. The report, Decarbonising development, is intended to help policymakers set priorities to reduce GHG emissions that are consistent with achieving zero net global emissions by 2100.

Countries should invest now in the research and technology that will be needed over coming decades and avoid taking decisions that can lock in high-carbon growth patterns and infrastructure investments, which will be obsolete in a low-carbon future, says the bank. It also advocates putting a price on carbon, describing how a carbon tax or market is an efficient way to raise revenue while encouraging lower emissions.

Finally, the bank says governments must smooth the transition for those most affected by the changes by protecting poor households from the impacts of higher prices and helping businesses to reinvent themselves for a cleaner world.

Removing fossil fuel subsidies, which primarily benefit the wealthy, and implementing carbon taxes or cap-and-trade systems are two ways to generate the revenue needed for education, health and infrastructure, and reduce carbon emissions at the same time, says the report.

Meanwhile, German chancellor Angela Merkel and French president François Hollande have issued a statement ahead of the Paris climate summit calling on world leaders to join them in delivering action to achieve full global decarbonisation over the course of this century and reduce emissions by 2050 to a level compatible with recent IPCC recommendations.


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